iPad for Business: What I Learned on Day 1

This past weekend, I purchased an iPad. Apple sold 300,000 of these tablet devices on the first day so I wasn’t alone. And by the way, in the usual iPad conceit of many bloggers, I am writing this post on my iPad as another demonstration of its functionality.

Since this device was released on the weekend, it made it easy to understand the iPad as the consumer device that it is. It is a great personal entertainment device to consume music, videos and photos, whether you stream content over wifi, sync existing media through iTunes or buy it directly from the iTunes store. I would assume that this was part of Apple’s release plan.

While understanding that this is not a laptop or business device, I wanted to use my iPad exclusively in place of my laptop for a full day of work. Here’s what I learned:

I spend a good part of my day going to meetings and I usually take my laptop. On this day I only took my iPad. Granted it is just walking down the hall, but it is easier carrying the smaller and lighter iPad. This let me keep up with email and Twitter during the meeting. Since there are no background services, I did not get any on screen notifications of mentions or any of my search terms. This makes Twitter less real time, unless you keep checking the stream.

Note taking
I started the day without any specific apps to handle note taking. I didn’t think I would use the notes app, which is the same app as on the iPhone and very limited. I thought I could use Google docs, would avoid any syncing, duplication and version issues. I very quickly found that Google recognizes the iPad as a mobile device and serves up the mobile versions of its apps. That means that docs is a read only program on the web. You can view all the existing docs you want, but you can’t edit any of them. You also can’t create new docs. By the end of the day I had downloaded the Pages app ($9.99) for note taking. One word of advice about the iPad user interface. Many applications have different functionality in landscape mode (horizontal) and portrait mode (vertical). For example, the only way to get from an open document in Pages to your list of documents is to turn your iPad vertically which brings up a My Documents button in the upper left.

One the things that appealed to me about the iPad was the opportunity to use it for presentations. If I need to take a quick trip somewhere just to give a presentation, can I really travel without my laptop. I started to answer that question by downloading Keynote ($9.99), which is Apple’s equivalent to Powerpoint. It is easy to copy existing presentations to the iPad using the file sharing function in iTunes. You find it under the apps tab when looking at your iPad in iTunes. Scroll all the down or you will miss it. You can import Keynote or Powerpoint files for display on your iPad.

If you will be presenting on a large monitor or projector, you will need the VGA out connector. The thing that is different about this output is that it does not mirror your display from the iPad. It just displays native iPad content like Keynote, YouTube videos and photos. So when you are connecting to the projector, make sure you open Keynote so you can make sure the connection works. The presentation shows on screen and the iPad shows that it is in video out mode with forward and back arrows. It does not display speaker notes.

And finally, Keynote on the iPad only exports as Keynote or PDF, so if you make any changes on the iPad, you will need Keynote on a Mac to get the presentation back to Powerpoint.

The last thing I learned in my first business day with the iPad was how to use PDF. By default, the iPad uses the quick viewer to view PDFs that you receive in email or find on the web. This means you can see these documents, but that’s about it. By downloading the Good Reader app ($0.99), you get more functionality. This app uses the file transfer function associated with iTunes, so you can add PDFs directly to you iPad for later viewing, or sales presentations. You can also download PDFs from the web. These files are only viewable through this app, as there is no way to see what files are on the iPad.

Another way to use PDFs is to convert them to the ePub format and view them with the ipad’s book reader, but that conversion seems unnecessary if you use the Good Reader program.

That’s what I learned in my first day of business use with my iPad. One final note about the keyboard. My typing has already improved, and I’m sure it will continue as as I type more.

Did you get an iPad, or are you thinking about it, and what are your thoughts about its uses for business?


  1. says

    Jeffrey – thanks for breaking ground for those of us interested in purchasing the iPad for business. Lots of good tips. I’m curious about which version of iPad did you get and why someone might choose one over the other for business. Is it just about the memory capacity, or are there other features?

  2. says


    Thanks for the feedback. No matter how many things you read about the ipad, you really never know how it’s going to work for you until you try it. Since I discovered a lot of things about it through using it, I thought this was a good way to share some tips.

    I purchased the basic model with 16GB of storage because I don’t expect to store lots of files on the device. The only difference in the wifi versions is the amount of memory available.

  3. says

    One of the guys writing for my blog has got his hands-on the iPad and has also mentioned that it would change the business model and way things are working out in the corporate world. No doubt. It would.. but there are certain enhancements requirement for the iPad such as a usb support would suffice. Will I buy iPad, Jeffrey? I would, but not now, I would wait for the next version to come out but I am definitely gonna own this device one day!

  4. Rob says

    I purchased the 32gb model on Saturday in PA. I am very happy with the device. My application is in the academic realm, and I found the iBookstore to be impressive. I downloaded the Kindle app and find that the Apple app is better. Only time will tell if the apps will be truly academic in providing a way to cite quotes from textbooks into Pages. I can’t wait.

    As for e-mail it is great. Browsing the web is great. I picked up pages and it is helpful for document editing. I ran to a department meeting and tried going paperless reading the agenda Word doc from the iPad. Pretty successful and I was able to put notes within the document as the Mail app allows you to open a Doc in Pages. I wish Pages had more business features such as Tracking options. My notes blended right into the original text. Trying to figure if I could change the text color. It would be nice to have automatic tracking.

    I found the Handwriting app and look to try this out in the future. I also purchased Pogo Sketch stylus to use with the device and I’ll let you know what I think.

    I ordered the keyboard/dock, which ships mid-April. Look to see how that works. I’ve read the wireless keyboard works well.

    Still searching for a nice case for it. Ordered the Zagg Invisibleshield

    One issue I am finding is low wifi reception. I’ve been reading more about this.

    Finally, I can’t wait to an OS release after reading about the iPhone 4.0 OS. Sounds great, especially folders to put apps in. When I transferred my iPhone apps to the iPad, the slick uncluttered pages, were filled. Tough swiping through 9 pages.

    Excellent purchase.

  5. says

    Now that you’ve been using your iPad for business purposes for several weeks, how do you perceive its suitability? What are the big limitations you’re encountering on a day-to-day basis? Where are the, Omigod, I didn’t know it could do that?

    Do you still think this is a good investment for business users, or is it better to wait for the next gen iPad?

  6. says


    Thanks for the request for an update. Read it here: http://socialmediab2b.com/2010/04/ipad-for-business-update/

    Do I think it is a good investment? If you need a small device for mainly email, note-taking, Twitter, and web browsing, it is great, plus it has some great personal benefits (kids can watch movies that no one else wants to watch). It is not without its challenges, though, depending on how you organize things.

    As far as waiting for the next generation, I can’t really answer that. Being an early adopter means devices are outdated with the next release, and you can either buy or wait. It really depends on your personal preference. As with all Apple products, you never really know what’s next. Multi-tasking is coming with an operating system update, but on the hardware side, will there be a camera or a USB? There’s not way to now at this point.

    Thanks for your comments, and let us know what you decide.

  7. says

    I created an app to fill the gaps of wanting to see what is on my ipad screen while presenting, and also having a remote control.

    Point App

    Feature Highlights:
    * Import photos from your iPad photo library, including slides in JPEG
    * Rearrange the order of your slides on the fly
    * Display your current slide on the iPad screen while it is connected to a projector or external monitor
    * Remote control your slides with the Control Point app for the iPhone and iPod touch
    * Remote control your iPad volume with the Control Point app for the iPhone and iPod touch
    * 10-hour iPad battery life with WiFi & 3G switched off.
    * 18-hour iPhone battery life with WiFi & 3G switched off.

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